A report in Nikkei Business Publications says that Japanese mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) Japan Communications has ordered an additional 100,000 3G handsets from ZTE of China. On 30 June the MVNO announced it was ordering a shipment of data communications devices from the vendor and has upped its order after the handset was certified by the Japan Approvals Institute for Telecommunications Equipment and the Telecom Engineering Centre. Japan Communications is now claiming a world first: this is the first time that an MVNO has attempted to hook up its proprietary handsets certified by a public institute to the host mobile operator’s network without implementing the MNO’s test for mutual connectivity. ‘This is a significant step that shows MVNOs and handset manufacturers can operate their own services independently of MNOs,’ a Japan Communications’ spokesperson said. ‘The mechanism facilitates the introduction of handsets like those featuring the ‘Android’ open application platform, for example, to the Japanese market.’
The operator now plans to start selling its ‘b-mobile3G hours150’ mobile data service using the ZTE handset from 7 August 2008. The new service offers subscribers up to 150 hours of 3G data transmissions – billed in units by the minute, just like a pre-paid telephone card. The 3G device uses HSDPA technology and a USB to connect to a laptop or PC, and is expected to sell for JPY39,900 (USD375) including taxes.